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NatureInterface > No.05 > P047 [Japanese]

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Wearables and Female Internet Users

JUNCO ITO (CEO & Producer, A-Girl. Co., Ltd.)

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The number of female Internet users has dramatically increased since the late 1990s. As broadband infrastructure improves, the core of network usage will be households and wearable computer technologies will be included in smart home networks. Thereupon, the number of female Internet users will increase further.

In a related development, companies are trying to develop information content for individuals, targeting cellular phone users, numbering over 30 million.

In this presentation, Ms. Ito reported on what the viewpoint of women is like and what consumers require.

Women's Usage of Web Sites

The main age bracket of female Internet users is from the 20s to 30s. Individuals in this bracket are widely known to have high purchasing power in Japan. One third of those in this bracket are full-time workers.

Mainly, those ladies exchange e-mail with friends and acquaintances. Especially, many beginners, those who have used the Internet for less than a half year, don't use e-mail if they don't have e-mail-using friends. On the other hand, some of those who have used the Internet for five years or more send more e-mail for business' sake than for communication with friends. Another feature of female users is the high ratio of mail magazine subscribers: Thirty-six percent of those who have used the Internet for five years or more subscribe to them. However, whereas beginners read mail magazines well, experienced people with five years or more rarely read them. Moreover, ladies generally dislike direct mail. Meanwhile, once female users find their favorite Web sites, they tend to visit these sites frequently, e. g., once a week. For Web site operators, it is therefore easy to obtain regular users.

Generally speaking, entertainment content is popular among female users, while some of those who have used the Internet for five years or more prefer practical usage such as SOHO and online shopping. Teenagers and those in their low 20s favor fashion and diet content, whereas those in their late 20s like fortunetelling content. However, in the current status, there is an explicit gap between information provided and needed (See figure). Though users want information on amusements such as theme parks, there is little provided because such information requires a large database and continuous maintenance. On the other hand, it is evident that Web sites addressing dating, love, and marriage are provided excessively.

Ladies' relation with the Internet develops from "I want to see Web sites" to "I want to make Web sites," and from "I want to write e-mails" to "I want to join mailing lists," and increased use of cellular-phone mail made it natural to check e-mail all day long. The basis of this attraction is the sense of comradeship: "Everyone has it" or "Everyone does it." However, ladies are relatively strict about using money, so they don't spend money unless they find profit worthy of the expenditure.

Wearable Computers and Ladies

Though the gap in numbers of male and female users of household information devices is closing, the ratio of ladies owning digital cameras or laptop PCs is low. Women tend to buy products with high cost effectiveness and low functionality, rather than sophisticated products such as PDAs and Java-compatible cellular phones. This is another gap between users and makers.

Moreover, the idea of the wearable computer has plenty of hurdles because women tend to wear various outfits. In addition, a product with a combination of single functions is accepted more easily than a high-function terminal that covers all functions. As for functions, products which bring security, such as child identification tags and anti-stalker merchandise, are preferred to those with convenience, such as debit cards.

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